It seems that Chairman of Ant Group, Jack Ma is reducing his majority stake in the holding company. Sources have indicated that China and Ant Group are currently working on ways for Mr. Ma to sell off his majority stake in financial holding company.
Talks started to begin in early January 2021 between Chinese authorities and Ant Group leadership, that Ma would be eventually existing the company majority control. It is still up in the air if Mr. Ma will leave the entire company, but it does seem this may be the case, though not confirmed.
Key sources would like Ma’s shares to sold to Ant Investors or Alibaba investors, keeping the shares in house, but discussions are still proceeding if this will be the case. Jack Ma’s exit is coming when Alibaba was penalized with multi billion dollars in fines by the Chinese government. -SB
1) The CLEAN Future Act, a nearly 1,000-page piece of legislation, is meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution that’s emitted from the petrochemical facilities that produce plastics or the raw materials used to make plastics. More significantly, the bill would impose a temporary pause on air pollution permits needed for approval of new plastics production facilities. But Republican lawmakers are raising concerns that provisions in the sweeping climate bill from top house democrats would stifle the plastics industry. The EPA regulations also require any permit for a plastics production facility to be accompanied by an ‘environmental justice assessment’, which would include consulting with the people living in the region where the facility is located.
2) Canadian Pacific Railway announced its plan to acquire the Missouri-based Kansas City Southern Lines rail company, which operates railroads in Mexico, Panama, and the United States. The new agreement will result in the first ever rail network to span the length of the North American continent to create the first rail network spanning from Canada to Mexico. The CP values KCS at $29 billion dollars and agrees to assume $3.8 billion in outstanding debts as part of the agreement. The deal awaits final approval from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.
3) President Biden’s economic advisers are preparing to recommend spending as much as $3 trillion dollars aimed at boosting the economy, reducing carbon emissions and narrowing economic inequality, including a giant infrastructure plan that may be financed in part through tax increases on corporations and the rich. Rather than trying to push a mammoth package through Congress, Biden has separated his plan into legislative pieces. The bill includes money for rural broadband, advanced training for millions of workers and 1 million affordable and energy efficient housing units. Additionally there is nearly $1 trillion dollars in spending on the construction of roads, bridges, rail lines, ports, electric vehicle charging stations and improvements to the electric grid and other parts of the power sector. But Republican support will depend in large part on how the bill is paid for.
4) Stock market closings for – 23 MAR 21:
Dow Jones 32,423 down by 308.05 NASDAQ 13,228 down by 149.85 S&P 500 3,911 down by 30.07
1) IBM and Delta have expanded a multi-year services agreement to migrate the airline’s applications to the cloud. Delta will move to a hybrid cloud architecture built on Red Hat OpenShift, and has been retooling during the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim of rebounding in 2021 and 2022 as travel picks up. Like other businesses, Delta has had to accelerate its digital transformation plans, by utilizing IBM’s services, hybrid cloud architecture and roadmaps to migrate its applications. In addition, Delta will also leverage IBM software such as CloudPaks and co-create applications.
2) The relentless rise in lumber prices shows no signs of subsiding as the pandemic keeps people at home, thereby spurring a home renovation boom. Prices have climbed almost 40% this year, fueling concerns for home builders. Surge in lumber prices is adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home and causing some builders to abruptly halt projects at a time when inventories are down. This demand has handicapped producers’ abilities to restock inventories quickly, further pushing prices up. There are fears that the rise in lumber will spark inflation bleeding into the home-buying market.
3) It appears that robots will soon have a big role in the construction industry, but until these machines can automatically prioritize tasks, project managers will still need to manually assess and appraise how the project is progressing. The construction industry’s productivity has trailed that of other economic sectors for decades, and there is a $1.6 trillion dollar opportunity to close the gap. AI and deep learning can make robotics useful across the construction industry. Now, AI startup Buildots has been taking its first steps to make this happen. Buildots attaches 360-degree cameras onto project managers’ hardhats to collect footage inside the construction site and analyze the image-data. On a typical site, there are tens of thousands of different construction activities. Tasks can be as small as installing a door handle, or as big as laying a brick wall. The Buildots platform automatically captures data using the cameras, and compares it to the designs and project schedule. It analyzes every electrical outlet, wall, or window, separately to determine its exact state relative to that expected on the plans. Deep learning models and algorithms such as the AI-based image stabilization engine, person data removal which removes people, phone/tablet screens, and paper notes and status classification can transform the visual data into insights. The AI system is able to assess if each item is completed or behind schedule and notify managers of what needs to be done.
4) Stock market closings for – 22 FEB 21:
Dow 31,521.69 up by 27.37 Nasdaq 13,533.05 down by 341.41 S&P 500 3,876.50 down by 30.21
1) A massive winter storm system, a polar vortex, will bring sever winter storm conditions with ice, snow, and very low temperatures to millions of Americans from Texas to New Jersey. Some of the worst weather will be in portions of Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky where an ice storm is expected with accumulations exceeding a half inch in some locations. This will likely lead to hazardous travel conditions with accidents, power outages and scattered tree damage. All of this promises huge economic losses for the people and local governments. Plus, there has already been loss of life and no doubt more will unfortunately will be lost.
2) NASA’s experimental ‘RainCube’ satellite is now dead. In mid-2018, NASA launched a tiny CubeSat as a proof of concept experiment to study weather on Earth. The objective was to see if compact satellites could return ‘science-quality data’ at a much lower cost than much larger conventional weather satellites. The RainCube satellite not only outlived its designed three-month lifespan, but it returned a wealth of data that proved useful for researchers. The CubeSat is just the size of a shoebox. RainCube’s mission was to study weather on Earth and show scientists what a tiny satellite could do. It completed its three-month mission… and then another three more months… and then three more. Finally, in late December of 2020, the test satellite died, having outlived and outperformed its design several times over.
3) Bank of America forecast the US dollar will strengthen throughout 2021 for 5 key reasons. 1- After several actions to pump dollars into the US economy, the Federal Reserve is starting to end its ultra-easy money policy and purchases of less assets. 2- Stimulus boost with an additional $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus proposal in a bid to supercharge the US economic recovery. 3- Faster growth with the global economy expected to rebound in 2021with the US growth to handily outpace that of the EU. 4- Dollar shorts as the market continues to short the dollar despite the currency’s recent rally. 5- Return of the safe haven as reversal stands to push more investors into cash positions and away from the risk of the markets. The peak in the market is expected this first quarter with a 10% market correction forecasted to arrive sometime this year and shake investors’ appetite for stocks.
4) Stock market closings for – 11 FEB 21:
Dow 31,430.70 down by 7.10 Nasdaq 14,025.77 up by 53.24 S&P 500 3,916.38 up by 6.50
1) As President Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus bill is debated by law makers and the press, Biden says he’s no longer afraid to spend big on economic relief. It’s not just smart fiscal investments, including deficit spending, it’s the return on investments in jobs, in racial equity that will prevent long-term economic damage with the benefits far surpassing the costs. But the national debt has soar by more than $7 trillion dollars during the last four years, and for the last quarter, the federal budget deficit was $572 billion, which is up more than 60% from the same period a year earlier. Fears are growing over the now massive national debt, a debt larger than at the end of World War II (as percent GDP), plus many other western and even third world nations have similar huge debts. There are real fears that if one of those nations economy collapses, then other economies will be dragged down, including Americas. Biden supporters counter that the low interest rates make it more palatable to borrow, with the rate on the 10-year Treasury bond hovering around 1.1%.
2) A new way to manipulate the stock market made the news, that uses modern computer technology and the internet to drive stock prices up and down. Called a “pump and dump” scam, it has pitted the professional stock traders of Wall Street against amateurs trading on the internet (also known as non-professional individual investors) with apps like Robinhood and Reddit. The scammers buy up the shares cheap, then spread rumors that drive the stock price higher while encouraging other investors to get in on the supposed windfall. When the stock hits a high point, the scammers dump their shares, leaving unsuspecting investors holding the bag. In addition to other stocks, the stock for GameStop is the main name in stories this week. The stock started at $4 a share six months ago, rising to $483. Short traders had determined that GameStop was a failing company that would not survive, and so were buying up the stock planning to sell short, which they had bought up on credit. The amateurs, using the internet and social apps started talking up how great the stock was as they also bought up stock, both driving up the price. As the stock price became excessively high, the short sellers were force to actually buy the stock at a price above the short price, resulting in huge losses for the Wall Streeters. The amateurs then sold off their stocks to the unsuspecting, causing the stock to tumble down.
3) General Motors announces its goal to eliminate selling all their gas and diesel vehicle models by 2035 and be completely carbon neutral by 2040. California had announced that it will no longer allow the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.
4) Stock market closings for – 28 JAN 21:
Dow 30,603.36 up by 300.19 Nasdaq 13,337.16 up by 66.56 S&P 500 3,787.38 up by 36.61
1) Reports are that Biden will unveil plans to spend trillions of dollars in pandemic and economic relief money this next week. Biden is introducing several members of his economic team, after data shows the U.S. economy has lost jobs for the first time in eight months as a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic has again shuttered restaurants and other businesses. Biden is calling for raising the minimum wage to $15, and for sending out $2,000 in direct cash payments. Biden claims that economic research confirms that with today’s crisis, especially with such low interest rates, taking immediate action, even with deficit financing , is going to help the economy. Biden also say they are looking into other economic relief actions that can be taken unilaterally, including extending a pause on repayments of federal student loans.
2) US naval aircraft carrier groups still rule the seas, but both Russia and China have plans to change that as they strive to expand their blue water navies, by developing new weapons that could threaten America’s dominance. For instance, it is reported that China launched two ballistic missiles that hit a moving target ship in the South China Sea thousands of miles from their launch sites. The Russian navy conducted its third test launch of it’s hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile that was launched from a frigate. The missile reached a speed of Mach 8 before hitting a target more than 200 miles away. These tests are the latest indication that American aircraft carriers, long viewed as kings of the seas, may soon face a real threat to their existence.
3) Iran has told South Korea not to politicize the seizure of their vessel, while demanding the release of $7 billion dollars in funds frozen amid U.S. sanctions. Additionally, Iran has denied all allegations that the seizing of South Korea’s tanker and its 20-member crew amounted to hostage taking, claiming instead it was Seoul who was holding Iran’s funds hostage. The vessel was seized based on an Iranian court order for ‘environmental pollution’, however, the ship’s Busan-based operator, said there was nothing to indicate that before the seizure of the vessel that Iranian authorities were probing possible violations of environmental rules.
4) Stock market closings for – 12 JAN 21:
Dow 31,068.69 up by 60.00 Nasdaq 13,072.43 up by 36.00 S&P 500 3,801.19 up by 1.58
1) The cryptocurrency Bitcoin plummets the most since March as a stronger dollar and investor nerves strip off nearly $140 billion in the cryptocurrency market cap, renewing fears that Bitcoin may be a bubble waiting to burst. But Bitcoin is still up roughly 89% over the past month. Other cryptocurrency coins, such as XRP and Litecoin, have shed about 18% each. Bitcoin hit a record high last week above $41,000, driven by the combination a weaker dollar, economic optimism, and a wave of bullish sentiment toward cryptocurrencies as big-name investors and investment banks touted a potential for huge gains this year, with the stronger dollar and higher bond yields triggering a plunge in Bitcoin and gold prices.
2) Trump has been permanently barred from the platform Twitter, resulting in$5 billion dollars in losses in market value, with Twitter stock dropping after the barring of the President. Twitter stated they permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence. Trump, who had about 88 million followers, generated enormous publicity for the platform with his controversial and incendiary tweets over the past six years. As a result, Twitter’s stock fell as much as 12% on Monday thus the decline of $5 billion dollars from Twitter’s market capitalization. Investors are worried that the Trump ban will erode interest in the platform and lead to boycotts among those who see the decision as politically motivated and a way to silence a major conservative voice.
3) Fears are growing that a bigger stimulus may be seen as the ‘peak of this bubble’ resulting in a market correction or worst. Some think that with the Democrats set to take control of both the House and Senate, perhaps President-elect Joe Biden will be less likely to spook markets with tax ambitions. Biden has promised $2,000 stimulus checks if the Senate turned blue, so now the question is what will happen? For millions of Americans, it’s been a painful waiting game already, they having subsisted with minimum money since losing their jobs from the pandemic. Joe Biden made the promise that if Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock turned the senate blue that would end the block in Washington and allow the $2,000 stimulus checks to immediately go out the door to people who are in real trouble.
4) Stock market closings for – 11 JAN 21:
Dow 31,008.69 down by 89.28 Nasdaq 13,036.43 down by 165.54 S&P 500 3,799.61 down by 25.07
1) With President Trump signing the COVID-19 relief bill into law, millions of Americans will again have pandemic-related benefits. The COVID-19 relief bill gives those who depend on unemployment benefits some amount of relief. In addition to enhancing unemployment benefits, there is also a $600 check for every adult making less than $75,000 a year.
2) To add to the economic woes of many Americans this year, for a second consecutive week, a massive winter storm is sweeping across the north and east. A new storm system brought heavy rain, gusty winds and thunderstorms to Southern California and will move across the country this week. The new storm system will move across the US during New Year’s Eve leaving heavy snow, winds, severe thunderstorms.
3) With President Trump’s veto of the annual military bill, the House voted to override President Trump’s veto, mustering bipartisan support to enact the legislation over the president’s objections and handing him a rare legislative rebuke in the final days of his presidency. The defense bill also takes steps to slow or block President Trump’s draw down of American troops from Afghanistan. The 322 to 87 vote is the first time a chamber of Congress has overridden one of Trump’s vetoes. The bill also authorizes a pay raise for the nation’s troops. However, the Senate, which must also get a two-thirds vote of its chamber to override vetoes, will take up the legislation later in the week. But the vote is complicated by another separate bill that would increase the size of individual stimulus checks to $2,000. For 60 years, lawmakers have used the annual military bill to bring home wins to their constituents. So far, the Congress has failed to over ride any of President Trump’s vetoes. But for the Senate to gain the two thirds vote to over ride, twelve Republicans must cross over. Other provisions of the bill are new benefits for tens of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, a 3% increase in pay for service members and a boost in hazardous duty incentive pay. The bill also requires all federal officers enforcing crowd control at protests and demonstrations to identify themselves and their agencies, as well as directing the Pentagon to rename military bases which are named after Confederate leaders.
4) Stock market closings for – 29 DEC 20:
Dow 30,335.67 down by 68.30 Nasdaq 12,850.22 down by 49.20 S&P 500 3,727.04 down by 8.32
1) Rich Americans are rushing to make large transactions before the end of the month and year, intending to get ahead of expected raising of taxes or closing of loopholes. The year-end frenzy come as a surprise to many advisers, because Republicans did better than many expected in congressional races. This suggests Biden may have a difficult time fulfilling campaign promises to raise trillions of dollars in new revenue from the wealthy. The new Biden administration could close the many loopholes that make the U.S. estate and gift tax easy to avoid.
2) The bill for the pandemic relief is 5,600 pages long containing more than one million words, which makes it slightly longer than “A Dance to the Music of Time”, Anthony Powell’s classic 12-volume work, which is considered the longest novel in the English language, taking more than 100 hours to read aloud. But while the bill doesn’t provide the relief of the first one, it will create two new Smithsonian museums and a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota. There is legislation for copyright holders to pursue increasingly frivolous claims against YouTube users. Economic sanctions and other penalties to any Chinese national who attempts to interfere in the process by which the 15th Dalai Lama is chosen. It will ban a now-defunct activist group from receiving federal funding. In short, much of the bill provides no help for Americans struggling to survive this economic calamity. Therefore, the stimulus bill is the worst of both worlds of Democrats and Republicans.
3) Communist China is adding to its military aggressiveness by developing amphibious assault ships to enhance its blue water navy and dominate the seas. The 40,000-ton assault warship is the key to Beijing’s ambition of dominating the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, where frequent encounters with the United States Navy have occurred this year. A total of eight Type 075 amphibious assault ships have been ordered by the PLA, with the third one currently under construction and expected to be delivered in early 2021. The landing helicopter dock carries 30 attack helicopters and 900 troops. The assault ships gives China the ability to conduct vertical deployment in military operations on islands and reefs, the Chinese Communist citing self-governing Taiwan and the South China Sea as examples.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 DEC 20:
Dow 30,199.87 up by 70.04 Nasdaq 12,804.73 up by 33.62 S&P 500 3,703.06 up by 13.05
1) Just went everyone thought the second stimulus was a done deal, President Trump has made vague threats not to pass it. The President is asking Congress to amend the bill that has passed both chambers, with Trump decrying the bill’s $600 payments and its failure to properly support small businesses. He is now urging lawmakers to boost the $600 check to $2,000 for every American earning less than $75,000 per year. Furthermore, a veto would leave the threat of a government shutdown and expiring Covid-19 protections looming over the holiday season. The President said the bill contains too many provisions unrelated to the pandemic.
2) Threats of a second stimulus bill veto was reinforced with Trump’s veto of the defense bill, in part because of the requirement for renaming bases honoring Confederates and restrictions on the executive’s ability to bring troops home from overseas. Both the House and the Senate are already making plans for a post-Christmas session during which lawmakers plan to override the veto. Congress has until noon on January 3 to do so.
3) There are emerging new signs of economic distress. With the fate of a federal aid package suddenly thrown into doubt by President Trump, economic data on Wednesday shows why the help is so desperately needed. Personal income fell in November for the second straight month, and consumer spending declined for the first time since April, with a worsening pandemic continuing to take a toll on the U.S. economy. Applications for unemployment benefits remained high last week and have risen since early November. Experts know that things are going to get worse, the question is how much more worse. Many economists view direct payments to people as among the least effective measures, because much of the money goes to households that don’t need it. Spending on restaurants and hotels fell with transportation, clothing and gasoline also in declined. The decline in spending is spilling over into the labor market, with about 869,000 people filing new claims for state jobless benefits last week. The relief bill is smaller than many economists say is needed to carry the economy through the pandemic and ensure a robust recovery.
4) Stock market closings for – 23 DEC 20:
Dow 30,129.83 up by 114.32 Nasdaq 12,771.11 down by 36.80 S&P 500 3,690.01 up by 2.75